Category Archives: United States of America

Sydney to Toronto via New York City.

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From Sydney to New York flying with Qantas Airways takes you via Los Angeles with a quick transit of about two hours there. Clearing immigration at L.A. (as it’s the first point of entry into the country) is mandatory – which means collecting your luggage and rechecking it at a dedicated area before heading onto your final domestic destination within the United States. As with all fares and airlines ex Australia, two pieces of baggage to North and South America is permitted, and if all travel is ticketed as a through fare, then the luggage will go as well as part of the international ticket’s allowance. The piece system has very much the same rules as a round-the-world-airfare and with Qantas being part of the Oneworld Alliance and along with its affiliates, you can check the website for more information about sizes, weight and other services.

Flying time to Los Angeles from Sydney approximately thirteen hours and then another four hours to New York City with QF.

https://www.oneworld.com/member-airlines/overview

  • When separate tickets are issued on other airlines these will not be included on the international long-haul fare and you may be asked to pay for the luggage upon check in. Contact the relevant airline before purchasing if unsure.

For all other carriers, check with the carrier for their own stipulations in regards to checked luggage and carry on allowances.

Australians are required to have their ESTA application filled out online and paid for before departure and it’s valid for two years. https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/


Upon arrival in New York City, JFK Airport offers passengers ground transport options which include services by rail to the NYC Transit Subway system and Long Island Rail; as well as buses and taxis with dedicated desks just before exiting the airport.

If taking a train, it will mean hopping off the free Air Train at Federal Circle then continue onto Jamaica Station (separate ticket US$5.00) which gives you the ability to catch another train onto Manhattan’s main Penn Station for further connections by train or bus.


If continuing onto another domestic flight and other destinations, the free driverless air train will whisk you across for all other terminal departures. Participating airlines are listed onboard for their respective terminals and should be printed on your electronic ticket.

Terminal 8 if connecting to American Airlines and it’s the last stop on the loop.


American Airlines provides passengers a more streamlined service with online baggage which is through checked if issued on the same international long-haul ticket – regardless if on a codeshare flight with Qantas Airways.


If travelling across to Newark Liberty International Airport for other flights, you can take a bus as there are a number private companies which operate between the three airports of JFK, Newark (EWR)  and La Guardia (LGA). However, if you’re savvy enough, a train may be the faster, better option if connections are tight. Traffic at times can be congested and somewhat stressful if going by bus, taxi or hire car.

http://www.panynj.gov/airports/ewr-airtrain.html


Additionally, you can continue to travel with NJ Transit which will bring you directly from Manhattan’s Penn Station with its dedicated platforms for the train to the Newark Airport stop in New Jersey.

Shown here, it’s where the Rail Link station joins and allows passengers to alight for another free air train to all other terminals within Newark Airport (EWR).

Amtrak trains stop at Newark Airport as well and again, just walk across to/from the free air train for your onward journey. The NJ Transit system not surprisingly, can actually be much quicker than taking a cab or bus and much more affordable.

Pictured here at Newark’s P4 stop it’s also where all the major hotels’ shuttle services may offer a complimentary transfer. Check with your hotel to see if they participate, otherwise taxis are generally available. A hire car company is located within P4 too at the ground level.


Over 30 million passengers pass through Newark Airport annually and is the major hub for United Airlines making it one of the busiest in the States. Its makeover has been a huge success and long overdue.


Located in New Jersey, Newark Airport is 16 miles from midtown Manhattan shown here in the distance. Thankfully this train service has alleviated some of the congestion heading into the Big Apple and has been operational now for a few years. The NJ Transit cost is USD $13.00 one way per adult and takes about 40 minutes either way and can be much quicker while being far more affordable.


And sometimes you can be lucky while in the Subway to have the opportunity and watch a fantastic busker such as Lorenzo Laroc playing Led Zepplin’s Kashmir on an electric violin.


And not to mention of course, having a quick shop around with stores all lit up for the upcoming Christmas break and Happy Holidays. A real treat as they open late with eateries all around to choose from.


So long New York as I’m on my way to Toronto for another fabulous rail journey with Via Rail traversing Canada. Might be a bit cool but I’m expecting to see some snow this time!


The UP Express from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Union Downtown Station is quick and efficient and a one-way ticket is about CAD $12.00 per adult. It’s fast, reliable and the trip only takes 25 minutes, with trains leaving every 15 minutes.


Great to see the CN Tower again displaying its colours and showing off as usual in Toronto as the major centrepiece within the city.


A stay at the Fairmont Royal York is the favoured hotel as it’s straight across the road from Union Station which makes it easier, especially if an early departure has been booked.


Anticipating the countdown for my departure on Via Rail’s The Canadian train crossing over the countryside for the next four days. Feeling very excited to be going from east to west this time and undoubtedly will expose a different aspect. What I may have missed out on a previous trip, I’ll most likely see now on a different schedule.

Stay tuned for my next blog – heading from Toronto onwards to Vancouver with The Canadian which is one of the most prized rail journeys in the world.

Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas – USA


If you’re heading to Dallas and Fort Worth’s International Airport (DFW) in the United States, then you’ll know it’s one of the longest flights in the world from Sydney with Qantas Airways travelling 13,804.95 kilometres. And after 15 or so hours flying time, the staff onboard my flight, namely Matthew and Kiet who looked after my section couldn’t have been more helpful. Fresh and still able to share a joke at the end of the journey. The A380 was always kept immaculate and with touch on-demand inflight entertainment from the moment you step onboard the aircraft until arrival – the time just seemed to fly.


Things have changed considerably since my last visit to Dallas – and for the better. A train service now operates from the airport to downtown Dallas. The cost? A whopping $2.50 one way per adult and valid for two hours. Make sure you have some US dollars before arrival as the machines are located in the train terminal and platforms.

DFW is one of the best airports to arrive as they now offer passport control very much like here at home (in Australia), whereby you scan your document and have finger prints taken all in a matter of minutes. No long queues as previous trips to the States. For Australians – make sure you’ve completed your ESTA online form before departing – see link for applications  https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov

See https://www.dart.org/riding/dartrailorangeline.asp for more information as this is one of the quickest and easiest ways for ground transport as the rail line will slice straight through to the main parts of the city.

(Information given here was correct at the time this blog was posted.)

Perched 170 metres above the ground, Reunion Tower’s newly renovated GeO-Deck lets visitors glimpse an impressive view of the city skyline.

From this angle I can see Fountain Place located at 1445 Ross Avenue in the Arts District which is a 60-story modern-styled skyscraper which was used in the last seasons of the TV series Dallas. If you were anything like me, you were glued to the TV screen wondering what JR Ewing was up to next.


Equally impressive is the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza which is a timeline of John F. Kennedy’s life and presidency. The exhibits are thoughtful, respectful and reflective of the events of what happened on this day 22 November, 1963.


The road where President Kennedy was shot more than 53 years ago when this photo was taken. It shows even after all this time, people are still curious about the assassination and the circumstances surrounding his death. It seems people still have their own theories as to what really triggered the calculated slaying.


Jacquie and John F. Kennedy will always be remembered and as this museum is a dedication, it’s one of the most visited in Dallas. It’s also part of the CityPASS which allows you easy access and discounted admission to many of the popular attractions, which incidentally are mostly within walking distance to each other. By buying it ahead of time allows you to skip the ticket line and gain entry to the crowd pleasers of which most are within walking distance to each other.


I’m here with Jeb and Jamie from Efrogs recommending a choice of crafted beers from one of the tour’s breweries. Starting at $70.00 The Brewery Tour is a fun way of making new friends and not having to worry about driving as it’s all taken care of.

Efrogs which is an acronym for Eco-Friendly Rides on Green Shuttles and is a tip-based transport service, also providing free rides for office workers, hotel guests, restaurant and bar patrons, as well as visitors at parties and sporting events.


At the Community Beer Company during our tour, I had to ask the old pick-up line. “Do you and your dog come here often?” Owners from around the neighbourhood and afar come here with their pooches to socialise and listen to some good music. Dogs are permitted due to no food being served on the premises.


Band at the Community Beer Company giving us a few tunes to either dance along, or there were a number of other activities you could partake in.
http://efrogsdallas.net


At AT&T Stadium Dallas Cowboys in full flight against Baltimore Ravens makes it a super charged game and the crowd was electric. There are various tours available ranging from VIP, Self-Guided, Art and Educational which can be booked through http://attstadium.com/tours and definitely worthy of a visit even if there’s no game on during the week.


Dallas Cowboys are world renown as a football team and even if you don’t follow footy of any code, you won’t want to miss going to a game just for the atmosphere.


Free trolley ride anyone? Everyone loves this especially the young ones as it trundles from downtown to uptown with a number of stops along the way.


And the delightful Klyde Warren Park is one of the stops and central to everything. A wonderful open space which was built over the top of the freeway.


The Perot Museum of Nature and Science (allows entry with a CityPASS) and is home to one of the most impressive gem collections in the United States. A new dinosaur species just recently discovered can only be viewed here.


The Trinity Rail Express (TRE) operates between Dallas and Fort Worth with each city having its own unique attractions and events making it easily accessible. The TRE is provided by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). Trains operate Monday through Saturday with no scheduled service on Sunday. Fares are US10.00 per adult one way see http://www.trinityrailwayexpress.org for timetables and updates.


The Stockyards at Fort Worth are a must see especially if you have children who love the idea of being in the Old West. The Cattle Drive as shown here happens daily (weather permitting) at 11:30 am and again at 4:00 pm.


The Museum at The Stockyards showcases some of the best-preserved and restored wagons, buggies and farming methods of this era.


And if you want to have a really good time, then try the bucking bull.

There’s so much more to Dallas and Fort Worth and I’d recommend at least three to four days for a fun time and soak up the southern hospitality.

 

 

New York City, New York USA – Part Two

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Need a ride? The Langham Hotel offer its guests on a first-come basis, a short ride from Langham Place. Of course, I need to go down town and have a look around.

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Times Square always busy 24/7 and very much central to all the theatres at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. Lots to do and see here and the line up for last-minute Broadway Show tickets can be quite long – go early if there’s a performance you’ve been eyeing off.

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Mid October and mid week, not really seen Seventh Avenue this quiet, but enjoying it while I can.

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I’d imagine being in NYC, you’d be trying to outdo all the others, especially when you’re at that age when testosterone rules! Glad he pulled up in time for the pedestrians to walk!

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Grand Central Station always a drawcard with passers-by generally fixated by looking up at its ceiling while walking along the Concourse. As one New Yorker said to me years ago, you can always tell tourists as they’re busy looking up at everything!

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One of my favourite outlets in NYC is the Grand Central Market just inside the station. Fragrant and colourful produce makes it a popular shopping experience for locals as well as tourists.

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Lots of choices and this is only the tea section.

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Pershing Square, hosts an array of eateries whereby you can admire the best views. In particular, the Chrysler Building which obligingly sparkles at night with its shiny automobile-inspired curves and radiator-cap gargoyles.

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I said I wouldn’t leave The Langham without taking some photos of the water towers, nicely gathered together at a height which makes it a little more up-close and personal. All I have to do now is convert them to black and white, making my own personal series … Another project of mine!

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Air travellers to New York City may depart/arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or LaGuardia Airport (LGA), both in Queens or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in neighbouring New Jersey. LaGuardia primarily serves domestic destinations and also offers flights to select Canadian and Caribbean destinations. Kennedy and Newark both serve domestic and international destinations. Visitors can reach Manhattan from all three airports by using taxis and buses. No subways and/or commuter trains from/to LaGuardia, but the other two airports are serviced by AirTrain and rail.

Now heading off to JFK and a trip to Budapest to commence training with the Tauck Academy for Travel Agents from Australia and UK.

New York City, New York USA – Part One

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I’m back In New York City (NYC) and have been trying to photograph its iconic high-rise water towers over the years … The Langham Hotel at Langham Place gave me a nice surprise as I peered between the blinds. Not only is the whole area around the hotel a photographer’s dream, but is superbly situated between the Empire State Building and Bryant Park –  and as they say, ‘location, location’ –  it cannot go unnoticed and most welcomed in this sought-after part of the city. Times Square is approximately 15 minutes and Grand Central Station about 10 minutes walking.

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However, a site inspection and stay at The Langham Hotel, reveals undoubtedly  it’s one of the most spacious in Manhattan, having 214 guest rooms designed with a refined, subtle colour palette and modern furnishings to match.

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A haven after shopping, walking, eating and people watching. All those activities which have us drawn to NYC time after time. Bright, roomy and a separate desk gives a homely feel whilst being in the midst of 24/7 non-stop hustle and bustle.

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As a travel agent it’s crucial in knowing what facilities and amenities are available for guests. The Langham Hotels are synonymous with stylish, modern furnishings which exude luxury and sophistication  throughout. If you feel this is for you, contact me for further information or visit www.langhamhotels.com

There is also 7,500 square feet of private meeting and event space available, with fantastic sky-line views over the city. Altamarea is the signature restaurant on the mezzanine level.

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The bathrooms are incredibly roomy with a rain shower in addition to a huge bath. Being 6 foot tall, trust me, I couldn’t touch the end even with my toes pointed. Pure bliss with a glass of sauvignon blanc! Just don’t fall asleep …

I wonder how they knew New Zealand wines were my favourite whites? Maybe they’ve been reading my blog? Now that’s the kind of touch a classy hotel will endeavour to deliver to their loyal guests and travel agent!

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Hot on my ‘To-do List’ is the city’s High Line walk.

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Starting at West 34th Street (between 10th and 12th Avenues) it begins and finishes at Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District. I would prefer to walk in this direction as the reward of delicious food and drink at the other end makes it even more worthwhile for the effort you’ve put in.

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The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.

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Trains resting for a short time before being shunted out to work on the busy subways.

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You can simply relax, just sit and watch all the various cruise liners come into NYC.

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There’s those water towers again, I’ll make sure I take some close-up photos later …

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The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the out-of-use elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after trains stopped running on them.

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The species of perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees were chosen for their hardiness, sustainability, textural and colour variation with a focus on native species.

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The design also emphasises year-round interest and blooms. Several kinds which originally grew on the rail bed are incorporated into the park’s landscape.

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Characteristic of the area, lots of chimneys and brown-stone buildings.

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Help build Lego NYC? Olafur Eliasson’s new interactive installation is sure to unleash the inner child in everyone. The Collectivity Project is about more than just play. Eliasson conceived this project as a way to bring people together and allow them to create a utopian society, if only in miniature form.

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For the High Line, Marshall presents a large-scale, hand-painted mural adapted specifically for the High Line. Titled Above the Line, the mural is an extension of the artist’s Dailies series.

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Love street art, some compelling – such as this one.

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Finishing up at the Meatpacking District, it’s a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) walk. The High Line is also wheelchair friendly. Best advice is to go early as it’s packed  with walkers all along the way. These photos were taken mid October and was very warm even then, take layered clothing and plenty of water with you.

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No shortage of cafes and restaurants …

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Really $350.00 if you honk? I’d love to see how they would manage this around mid-town Manhattan!

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I’m calling it a day and heading off for some retail therapy after all that exercise I’ll find the energy to shop for some bargains. Here I go … Macys.  Again, not too far from my hotel.

Garden Grove OC to Seattle, USA – Part One

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Flying from John Wayne (SNA) to Seattle is a lot tamer than Los Angeles International (LAX) airport.

John Wayne Airport is 14 miles (23 km) from Orange County’s main attraction Disneyland and Los Angeles International Airport is 35 miles (56 km). There are no flights between the two airports.

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Just over two hours flying time with Alaskan Airlines and the temperature’s dropped coming into Seattle. Bags were already off the belt when we arrived to collect them. Quite efficient and the service onboard was exceptional with some drinks and a small snack served.

The SeaTac / Airport Station is connected to the fourth floor of the airport parking garage. Trains arrive and depart on the platform level of the station. The covered, level walkway to the airport terminal is one level down on the mezzanine. Adult fares range from $2.25 to $3.00 depending on how far you travel.

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The Fairmont Olympic Hotel is conveniently located in downtown Seattle, close to Pike Place Market and many other opportunities to experience this city.

It’s also the start of our trip with the world-famous Rocky Mountaineer’s rail journey as the new Coastal Passage begins in Seattle. Some sightseeing and meeting up with my group one day prior to departure. allows us to acquaint ourselves with some of the attractions here.

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Timeless elegance surrounds this hotel from the corridors to the Grand Lobby.

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A sneak peek at the Space Needle.

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We’re ready for the 41 seconds of upward, ‘no-getting out’ the elevator ride of 521 feet.

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Magnificent views all round and interesting to note the ships at port. With Rocky Mountaineer you can also package up a cruise, either pre or post your rail journey from Seattle.

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Not far from the Fairmont Olympic Hotel is Pike Markets which is filled with all kinds of goodies.

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Fresh as …
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A crew of fish mongers who throw fish to each other which entertains customers.

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Starbucks opened its first store in 1971 in the Pike Place Market in downtown.

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Not bad ‘eh? The bike I mean …

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The Gum Wall is a brick alleyway wall now covered in used chewing gum at the end of Pike Markets. Parts are covered several centimetres thick.

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Dale Chihuly’s exhibit opened in 2012 and is next to the Space Needle showcasing studio glass and gardens. The Museum’s photo shows him contemplating his creations, studying other worldly formations and designs.

“I just liked the name ‘Persian.’ It conjured up the Near East, Byzantine, Far East, Venice – all the history, trades, smells and senses. It was an exotic name to me, so I just called them Persians.” –Chihuly

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Delightful to see.

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And at the end of the day, you can relax and have a meal at the café with accordions adorning the ceiling.

Knott’s Berry Farm, Shopping and Huntington Beach – Part Two

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Knott’s Berry Farm is new to me although it’s been around since 1940. The park features 40 rides including roller coasters, family rides, children’s rides, water rides and historical rides.

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160 acres of amusement park in Buena Park, California and as the 2014 Global Attractions Attendance Report states, Knott’s Berry Farm is the 13th most visited theme park in North America.

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In 1983 Camp Snoopy was added and began the park’s present-day association with the Peanuts characters.

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The Silver Bullet was fantastic to watch, I just let the others hop in line ahead of me … Just like to pretend.

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With the renovated Boardwalk area, it’s a colourful Coney Island-style fun zone.  If you come along to Knott’s Berry Farm outside of American school holidays, you’ll be amazed at how  easily you’re able to move around without any major line ups.

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Legs up! No waving.

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After all the excitement, you’ll probably need to refuel.

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Lots to choose from …

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Don’t believe for a minute this cutesy ride slows down in a hurry.

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Train ride by lunchtime is all we need.

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I beat Rachel to sit at the back, being wet for sure and not having frizzy hair was the main reason I let her sit in the front …

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Can’t go past a good old-fashioned wagon ride.
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Lunch and then Rachel is showing me the way at South Coast Plaza to my favourite store in the world – Macy’s. Now the real fun begins.

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Once we’ve exhausted our credit on shopping, it’s time for Dukes at Huntington Beach and the choices are sensational.
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Even the everyday vendor couldn’t take his eyes off the sunset at Huntington Beach Pier.

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Book early to gain a window seat at Dukes, you won’t be disappointed.

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After a full day out and because all the hotels are so close together at Garden Grove, thought I’d check out the Wyndham Anaheim Garden Grove next door to the Marriott Suites Anaheim. There is a bus stop outside here which takes you to Disneyland if staying at any of these hotels.

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Glad I did venture over, watching a bit of American footy on TV only to be told an Aussie performer Jarryd Hayne had just redeemed himself on the field. So whilst our Barman doesn’t always look this blurry nor does Jarryd play a star every time I suppose.  I have to say Hector pours an outstanding glass of vino though. Full points!

Much rather stay here than go back and pack for next stop.

Disneyland Revisited 2015, Grove District Anaheim, Orange County, USA – Part One

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I’m back to where I  started travelling internationally, and it’s the 60th Diamond Celebration of Walt Disney’s dream with added attractions and California Adventure  just next door.

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What’s new for me is the light rail which transports you into the grounds and by purchasing a pass, it offers you all the rides – all day.

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I’ve not been to Disneyland in almost 30 years and to return is a fun trip down memory lane, especially seeing some favourite rides.

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You can choose from a Disneyland 1-day Park Hopper ticket or a 2-day Park Hopper. This ticket entitles you to:
1 or 2 Park Hoppers entitles you to same-day entry into both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure.
• All Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Bonus Tickets expire 13 days after first use or on January 13, 2017, whichever occurs first.
• First day of use of a ticket constitutes one full day of use.

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Waiting for the parade to begin, children (and parents) are entertained with fun dancing lessons.

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California Adventure has a parade of characters at 5:15 pm each afternoon – don’t miss it.

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Cars Land was a new attraction for me and a big favourite – for both young and old.

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Not sure I’ll be around to see it, but would be interesting …

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And if you’re staying at the hotels around the Disneyland area, there’s buses which run on a regular service, particularly along Harbor Boulevard, Garden Grove in Orange County or OC as it’s known. $5.00 will buy you a return ticket and you’re able to purchase it at your hotel as well.

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Along Harbour Boulevard in Garden Grove, there’s a cluster of well-known properties from the Grove District Anaheim Resort and Hotel’s group which offer varying accommodation styles. The Sheraton Garden Grove – Anaheim South caters widely for families with quite a number of interconnecting rooms, and depending on availability, they can usually confirm at the time of booking.

One whole floor is dedicated to business travellers whereby they’re not impacted by families.

Anaheim Marriott Suites-1_Living Area - Copy The Anaheim Marriott Suites is the premier and largest Marriott with all suites. It’s a full-service hotel and located just one mile from the Disneyland Resort attractions.

Separate to the bedroom is wardrobe and luggage space, bathroom and huge flat-screen TV in the lounge area with fast free internet and desk.

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If you’d like to try another hotel’s cuisine for a change, you can simply walk across the street and enjoy a delectable shared plate as a starter at the Hyatt Regency Orange County’s TusCA Restaurant. Renowned for its dishes of serving up hearty pastas and artisan pizzas baked in an authentic Italian oven, you can choose local Californian wines which tops it off for the night.